Voice of Jayalalithaa may be a dawn of new hope for Sri Lankan Tamils
Vol 2 | Issue 23
When the British retreated from Ceylon, now called Sri Lanka, in 1948, it comprised two nation states – the Northern and the Eastern Provinces constituting the Tamil state and the rest of the country constituting the Sinhala state with a central government based in Colombo.
Sri Lankan politics since independence shows the Tamils have been reactive to Sinhalese politics which clearly has been hegemonistic. Since the hopes and aspirations of the Tamils were never fulfilled by the Sinhalese dominated governments, they began with the demand for responsive co-operation which spanned the period from 1948-56.
The demand progressed to federal state during 1957-72 and culminated with the demand for a separate state of Tamil Eelam with the Vaddukotai resolution in 1976.
In focus: By championing the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, Jayalalithaa has earned the goodwill of Tamils across the world
The mainstream Tamil political leadership confined its strategies to peaceful negotiation and agitation, which made no progress whatsoever with the chauvinist Sinhala leadership.
The Tamil youth viewed majoritarian democracy as rule of the brute Sinhalese majority and found it unacceptable. Politics is all about power. Understanding the essence of this tradition of politics in relation to state power, violence is what the Tamil youth opted for to achieve their goal. The notion of revolutionary violence in national liberation movements was given a new historical and ethical significance.
Left to themselves, the militant Tamil youth would have achieved their goal of Eelam either as a state within Sri Lanka in a federal setup or as a separate state by the late 1980s
The historical blunder committed by the young, inexperienced Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in sending a ‘peace keeping force’ ostensibly to help implement the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987 ended up fighting the LTTE cadre engaged in a liberation movement.
Indian policy makers never got over the drubbing its armed forces suffered at the hands of a bunch of Tamil youth engaged in their freedom struggle. When Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa decided to go for the kill in the summer of 2009, India extended him full support with armed men and material.
Tamils in Sri Lanka may be down but not out. The Northern and the Eastern Provinces have been turned into colonies of the Sinhalese today. A puppet regime drawn up of renegade Tamils has been installed in the Eastern Province.
The Northern Province, for all practical purposes, is under military rule. Sinhalisation is creeping in Jaffna, citadel of Tamil culture, and in the Wanni, their homeland.
Buddhist stupas are rising on Hindu temples flattened by indiscriminate bombing during the Eelam war. Towns, villages and streets are renamed after the victorious Sri Lankan army officers who had inflicted much pain and humiliation on the innocent Tamil population. The occupied military shows scant regard to the basic constitutional or human rights of the Tamil people. Life for them has become overwhelmingly oppressive.
Amidst this grim scenario, the Rajapaksa regime expects India to save it from international indictment, following the UN panel report on war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces against innocent Tamils.
The choice before the international community is between finding a solution to the Tamil national question and allowing Colombo to continue its genocide and extermination programme of ethnic Tamils in the country.
Formation of Tamil Eelam is the only way forward. The entire Western world, including the USA, is now convinced of the genuineness of the vanquished LTTE’s liberation struggle.
Even the Sinhalese have begun to realise that they have made a mistake in re-electing Rajapaksa President as he faces the possibility of being hauled up before the International Court of Justice to face war crimes charges and bring disgrace to their country.
While New Delhi is caught in a cleft stick, the newly elected Tamil Nadu government of Jayalalithaa, unlike her predecessor Muthuvel Karunanidhi of the DMK, has taken the initiative of helping Eelam Tamils achieve their goal.
She had a resolution passed unanimously in the State Assembly demanding the government of India impose economic sanctions against Sri Lanka. If implemented, it would hurt the economy of Sri Lanka and force Rajapaksa to concede the legitimate demand of its ethnic Tamils.
Anticipating Jayalalithaa taking a stand different from that of the DMK, Rajapaksa had sent an emissary to Hyderabad to enlist the services of Telugu Desam leader Chandrababu Naidu to cultivate the friendship of the new Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu.
The Governor’s address to the Tamil Nadu Assembly referred to the pathetic life of subjugation in which the Sri Lankan Tamils were living in their homeland and urged the Manmohan Singh government to prevail upon Sri Lanka the need for taking immediate measures to rehabilitate the uprooted Tamils in their own area.
Jayalalithaa deserves congratulations for the welcome initiatives regarding Eelam Tamils.